The benefits of building a learning culture

By DJ Waldow

4 minute read

You don’t have to dig too deep to realise the link between employee learning and corporate success.

According to author and professor of business administration, Edward Hess, “companies that learn fastest and adapt well to changing environments perform the best over time”.

While the core Filtered product is focused on learning curation, a compelling side benefit of using our technology is that our clients often reinforce their learning culture.

Quick: What is meant by “culture of learning?According to CEB, a culture of learning is “a culture that supports an open mindset, an independent quest for knowledge, and shared learning directed toward the mission and goals of the organisation.”

To be clear, developing a learning culture is in no way simple or easy, but it is far from impossible.

This is not because people do not want to learn. Not. At. All. There is a thirst (and appetite) for continuing education — honing your craft as you advance your career.

Unfortunately, our “always-on” work environment means we are more pressed for time than ever before. Add the fact that budgets are tightening and we are suffering from content overload... learning departments are getting deprioritised.

Yet now more than ever, it's essential that learning departments get more funding, more resources, and create more skill-focussed learning environments. A strong learning culture can lead to increased engagement and motivation as well as a reduction in workplace distractions.

Let’s dig into each of those two benefits of learning culture a bit more, as well as learn how one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, Novartis, is creating a sustainable learning culture.

Increased engagement and motivation

43-53% of your workforce is bored at this very minute. 

That’s scary, huh?

And, not surprisingly, bored employees are disengaged employees (in fact, according to Gallup, only 13% of employees are engaged). Distracted employees make mistakes and miss opportunities.

There is also a real cost to boredom (and lack of engagement). In the United States, Gallup estimates that unengaged U.S. workers cost companies around $500 billion per year.

TL;DR: Half of your company is bored, most are not engaged – and it costs half a trillion dollars per year.

Not good.

Building a solid learning culture can mitigate this boredom and increase engagement and motivation for your entire staff.

Some good news: 94% of employees would stay with a business longer if their employer invested more in learning. 

If employee retention is one of your goals (it should be), this is a welcoming statistic. Additionally, if your organisation is putting money and resources into LXPs and other learning solutions, you should be smiling right now.

But that’s not the only benefit of building a culture of learning at work.

Reduce workplace distractions

Today’s workplace is full of distractions and disruptions.

And to be clear, “today’s workplace” can be just about anywhere, anytime – an office, a home, a coffee shop, a car, and so on. While distractions are different in an office vs. in your home, there are always things that occur during the day to negatively impact your focus: social media, work/personal text messages (which just happened as I typed this line!), meetings, laundry, doorbell ringing, co-worker telling you a story.

Employees who report being distracted also point to increased stress levels, reduced motivation, and more frustration in their workday.

But there is a solution: Training and learning.

70% of those surveyed in this Udemy report agree that training can help people get better at blocking out distractions and achieving focus.

This training could also include tips and strategies to:

  • Be more mindful and present 
  • Manage your time more efficiently
  • Hone your leadership skills
  • Use technology more effectively

Indeed, all of these skills are included in our Skills Palette, the core selection of skills that we use as a starting point when building or refining our clients’ skills frameworks and syncing them to their content.

The net positive impact of fewer distractions is more productive, more confident, more motivated, and overall happier employees. #WinWinWin

By ensuring these skills are adequately covered in learning content provision and making that provision more discoverable, Filtered can then help facilitate this learning by showcasing training that focuses on specific skills to help employees work smarter, more efficiently. As it turns out, skills — specifically reskilling and upskilling — are the #1 priority for 93% of businesses.

That’s just what Novartis did.

How (and why) Novartis went “Big” on learning.

Novartis's mission is to reimagine medicine to improve and extend people’s lives.

As one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, when Novartis makes up its mind to do something, it’s often ... big.

In 2019, the leadership at Novartis agreed to “go big” on learning as it made a ton of strategic sense to help grow its culture of curiosity.

The team relied on internal and external data sources (Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends, 2019 for one) to build the case that learning (one of our favourite words here at Filtered) can help develop the necessary skills AND attract/retain the best of the best talent.

Learning at Novartis is valued and recognised. They wanted to ensure learning was accessible to all associates regardless of time(zone) or location. They are constantly innovating both the what and the how of learning. Their executive committee even made a commitment to associates of time to learn, with an aspiration that Novartians should strive to dedicate at least 100 hours a year to their learning journeys. 

In 2019, they launched “Curiosity Month,” with 130 events and nearly 14,000 learning hours. In 2020 — during the global pandemic — it almost doubled the number of events (to 215+) and more than quadrupled the total learning hours (up to 60,000+). 2021 is on pace to again blow those numbers out of the water with 75,000+ hours from just the #CuriousTogether campaign alone, but that is a drop in the bucket of the overall learning time invested across the enterprise.

The numbers speak for themselves: 

Since 2020, over 30,000 Novartians have engaged in their Curiosity campaigns. Over that time Novartis’s Leaders have been on their own curiosity journey with a learning program called the Unbossed Leadership Experience. Teams reporting to leaders who completed the training program show, compared to other teams: 

  • Higher engagement results (3.8 percentage points), 
  • Increased empowerment (2.9 percentage points), and
  • More safety in speaking up (3.6 percentage points).

Vas Narasimhan, Novartis CEO and committed lifelong learner said it best:

“I believe that one of the most valuable things all of us can undertake is to invest in our own growth in all dimensions.”

Filtered helped support this learning culture journey by providing in-depth analysis of Novartis’ key skills, as well as tagging content with improved metadata at scale. This is enabling an ongoing assessment of learning content provision to help sync those skills and content.

Learn more about the benefits of creating a learning culture

Learn about learning? Yes. Exactly.

We are hosting our extremely (learning) cultured CLO Coffee Club this week with the aforementioned Novartis – Nina Bressler Murphy, Novartis’s Global Head of Enterprise Capability. During this conversation, Nina will discuss how the learning team has enabled an inspired, curious, unbossed learning culture, transforming the organisation globally.

And how you can do the same for your team, of course.

Sign up for the 3rd “CLO Coffee Club” session now.

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